Lorde seemingly sprung out of nowhere in 2013 with her huge hit single Royals, and now the New Zealander has returned with her second full-length album Melodrama, which proves another pleasant surprise.
Lead single Green Light sets the tone of this break-up album perfectly, with switches between mellow piano ballad verses, harshly whispered vocal layers over house chords, and driving beats, along with almost euphoric choruses, all capturing the twisting thoughts of an ever-changing relationship dynamic.
Sober and the Shura-style Homemade Dynamite builds the instrumental structure for the rest of the album, with minimal tribal beats paired with 80s synth tones, while Lorde continues to paint the picture of pain, anger and loss, without fully diving into these issues. This midnight synth feel is most prevalent on Hard Feelings/Loveless, with the inclusion of detuned industrial stabs, which add to the darkness.
Lorde is at her most vulnerable in piano ballad Liability, where she sings “I know that it’s exciting, running through the night, but every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone”, as she really explores her own emotional depth. Sober II (Melodrama) then takes on a more morose nature, with beautifully deft string harmonies, which along with a trap beat, slowly drown her out, marking a particularly poignant and reflective moment.
Writer In The Dark explores the more bitter side of her persona, and at times self-indulgent, with quips such as, “Sorry I was never good like you” before breaking into a whole new character. “I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ‘til my breathing stops” shows Lorde at her most dramatic and Kate Bush-like, before the Liability (Reprise) descends to another level of sparseness.
Supercut is far more pop-sounding - a positive time capsule where being with the ex only reminds her of the good times, and Perfect Places provides the biggest chorus since Green Light, to show the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s quite amazing how Lorde has managed to astutely depict every aspect of the aftermath of a relationship so maturely, without alienating the listener, making Melodrama possibly one of the best break-up albums of the decade. As she states in The Louvre, it’s as if she’s put a megaphone to her chest.